Canada’s Jeff Symonds stormed onto the professional triathlon scene with a surprise third-place finish at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, courtesy of his stellar run speed (he clocked a 1:13:33, second only to champion Craig Alexander). Symonds went on to make his mark at 2013’s Challenge Penticton, recovering from a mid-race bike crash to post a 2:47 marathon — scoring his first iron-distance victory in front of hometown crowds. Here the former NAIA All-American collegiate runner from the University of British Columbia shares his favorite long run.
“Often my girlfriend, Sophia, will ride support on her mountain bike,” Symonds says. “There is very little conversation after the warm-up. She is awesome at helping me simulate where I want to be when racing — behind the lead cyclist! Last year when Sophia asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, do you think I said, ‘Have a big party,’ ‘Go out for some fine dining’ or ‘Have an epic Jean-Claude Van Damme movie marathon’? No. I said, ‘A 30:30:30 descending run!’”
The total time is two hours, with the first 20 minutes at an easy warm-up pace. Then it’s 30:30:30 descending, with the first 30 minutes at Ironman race pace, the second 30 a bit faster and the last 30 at Ironman 70.3 race pace. (“At least that’s the plan,” Symonds says. “In previous years I’ve hammered the snot out of the last 30 to the detriment of my training.”) The last 10 minutes is an easy cool-down followed by drills and strides.